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Feb 22, 1:58 AM EST

Pakistani lawyers protest court bombing that killed 7


AP Photo
AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Lawyers in northwestern Pakistan boycotted court hearings in protest on Wednesday, a day after a suicide bombing killed seven people outside a courthouse in the region, officials said.

Munib Khan, a member of the regional lawyers' association, said the protest was an effort to force the government to make courts more secure.

A Taliban splinter group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack, in which three suicide bombers hit the court in the northwestern town of Tangi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.

The attack was the latest in a wave of militant assaults in the country that has killed over 125 since last week, including a shrine bombing claimed by Islamic State group, which killed 90.

The bombings have prompted a countrywide crackdown by security forces targeting militants and their hideouts.

Pakistan's army said the air force targeted militant hideouts in the Khyber tribal region on Wednesday, killing several suspects. The claim could not be independently verified because the lawless tribal regions, long home to local and al-Qaida-linked foreign militants, are inaccessible to media.

Meanwhile, in the southern port city of Karachi, a police raid killed eight Taliban-linked militants, police official Rao Anwar said.

One of those killed was a 16-year-old boy, who Anwar claimed was being groomed for a suicide bomber. Weapons, hand grenades and explosives were seized at the house, he said.

Pakistan has been at war with Islamic militants for more than a decade. In recent years, the army launched several offensives against Taliban strongholds in the tribal regions along the Afghan border, but Islamic militants have shown they can still carry out large-scale attacks aacross the country.

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Associated Press Writer Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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